Interview with Rabbi Shmuley Boteach first since racist tweet caused Roseanne cancellation
Steph Harmon and agencies
Roseanne Barr has given an emotional interview, saying she feels remorse for the racist tweet that prompted ABC to cancel the revival of her show Roseanne.
Barr recorded a podcast interview with her longtime friend Rabbi Shmuley Boteach. On Sunday, he published an edited transcript and recording of the conversation, in which Barr says she “never would have wittingly called any black person a monkey.”
She has since blamed the tweet, aimed at former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett, on the sleeping drug Ambien and deleted it.
Barr spoke through tears for much of the interview with Boteach, her first since the cancellation of the Roseanne reboot. The pair spoke about theology and Barr’s study of the Torah, and Boteach invited her “to set the record straight”.
“How do you, someone who looks at Martin Luther King as an idol and loves the Torah … how did you write something that people feel is in complete contravention of that values system?” he asked.
“I didn’t mean what they think I meant. And that’s what’s so painful. But I have to face that it hurt people,” Barr said. “When you hurt people even unwillingly there’s no excuse. I don’t want to run off and blather on with excuses. But I apologize to anyone who thought, or felt offended and who thought that I meant something that I, in fact, did not mean. It was my own ignorance, and there’s no excuse for that ignorance.”
She said the time was particularly difficult as she has “loved ones who are African American”.
“I have black children in my family. I can’t, I can’t let ‘em say these things about that, after 30 years of my putting my family and my health and my livelihood at risk to stand up for people. I’m a lot of things, a loud mouth and all that stuff,” she said, through tears.
“But I’m not stupid, for God’s sake. I never would have wittingly called any black person, they are a monkey. I just wouldn’t do that. I didn’t do that. And people think that I did that and it just kills me … I’m just so sorry that I was so unclear and stupid.”
Barr also lamented that some people didn’t accept her explanation, saying the sleeping drug “impaired” her ahead of the tweet. “I don’t excuse it. It’s an explanation,” she said.
“I said to God I am willing to accept whatever consequences this brings because I know I’ve done wrong. I’m going to accept what the consequences are – and I do, and I have,” Barr said. “But they don’t ever stop. They don’t accept my apology, or explanation. And I’ve made myself a hate magnet. And as a Jew, it’s just horrible. It’s horrible.”
On Thursday ABC announced it will air a 10-episode Conner family sitcom this fall without Barr in it. In a statement issued by the show’s producer, Barr said she agreed to the settlement to save the jobs of 200 cast and crew members.
When ABC swiftly axed Roseanne last month, ABC Entertainment president, Channing Dungey, said the tweet was “abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values.”
Though Roseanne prompted outrage for jokes about minority characters, and an episode some called Islamophobic, it was watched by an enormous television audience. The first episode in March was seen by more than 25 million people.
“I’ve lost everything,” Barr said on the podcast. “And I regretted it before I lost everything.”
Associated Press contributed to this report